The Path to Paradise


The Path to Paradise

The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and Their Dispatchers

Anat Berko

196 pages


March 2009


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

***Named Among the Top 50 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Perspectives on Terrorism, Volume II, Issue 11***Suicide bombers are often compared to smart bombs. From their dispatchers’ point of view, they are highly effective, inexpensive weapons, and there is no need to invest in their technological development. Suicide bombers are in fact smarter than smart bombs because they can choose their own targets and can react to circumstances on the ground, changing their target or their timing in an instant to ensure the maximum damage, destruction, and death. Of course, unlike smart bombs, suicide bombers think and feel. They have histories, stories, beliefs, and desires. In short, they have an inner world. Exploring the inner world of suicide bombers has been the focus of Anat Berko’s research for years. What are their thought processes? Do male bombers really believe that death will transport them to a paradise inhabited by virgins? What are female bombers promised in the hereafter? Berko also explores the world of those who “drop the smart bomb”— the dispatchers. Who are the people who persuade others to go calmly to their horrific deaths?To learn about the inner world of suicide bombers and their dispatchers, Berko entered Israel’s most heavily secured prison cells and conducted intensive and extensive interviews with male and female suicide bombers who had failed their missions, as well as with their dispatchers—including former Hamas spiritual and operative leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (later assassinated by Israeli Defense Forces). With a foreword by Moshe Addad.


Praise for the hardcover edition:

"With unprecedented access to a population of failed, thwarted, or aborted suicide bombers in prison, [Dr. Berko] has created a uniquely insightful work. . . . Future suicide attackers in the United States may not precisely replicate the individuals interviewed in Israeli prisons for the research contained in this book. The Path to Paradise is, however, a critically enlightening work on a sample of existing terrorists. American counter terrorism personnel can gain much insight from Dr. Berko's research."—Counter Terrorist

"Berko has written an interesting book that departs from many of the typical studies of suicide bombers. Her research involved frequent and extensive conversations with Palestinians jailed by Israel for attempted suicide terrorist attacks; the author recounts, in some cases transcribes, these discussions. Equally interesting is the author's emphasis on women's roles in suicide bombing and, more broadly, the role that gender plays in shaping the logic and motivation of terrorism against Israel. As always, the issue of bias in the scholarship on the Arab-Israeli conflict is something to consider here, as the author was previously a career officer in the Israeli Defense Forces. However, that does not undermine the value of her interviews, which flesh out and reflect similar studies of terrorism that emphasize the role of humiliation and gender. The book is a fascinating look at the individuals who carry out suicide attacks, and helps us understand the people, arguments, and emotions that give rise to this form of terrorism. Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through practitioners."—Choice

"This book, written by former Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Anat Berko, is an exploration of the world of suicide bombing. With unparalleled access to some of Israel's most heavily guarded prisons, Berko conducts interviews with suicide bombers who were stopped before they could carry out their attacks, and also with their handlers."—Middle East Journal

"For those dealing with terrorism this book is a must-read. "—International Institute of Security & Safety Management Newsletter

"This book is probably one of the best I have seen on the subject since the terrorists she interviewed either were arrested prior to getting to their targets or changed their mind prior to blowing up their targets or were the dispatchers who sent other suicide bombers."—Specialized Consulting Services

"Berko entered Israeli prisons and interviewed failed Palestinian suicide bombers and arrested bomb dispatchers. Here, she reports on those interviews, including one with the late Hamas leader Sheik Yassin, in order to explore the motivations of these figures, as well as how suicide bombing attacks against Israel are organized. In much of the work, she stresses the religious aspects of the phenomena and downplays the political and military realities of the Israeli occupation."—Reference & Research Book News